Darfur struggles with yellow fever: Millions to get vaccine
KHARTOUM - More than 3.5 million people in Sudan's conflict-plagued Darfur region will be vaccinated against yellow fever which is suspected of killing nearly 100 people in the past seven weeks, officials said.
"(The) vaccination plan has been finalised and will cover vaccination of approximately 3.6 million," said a joint report from the UN's World Health Organisation and Sudan's health ministry, issued late Monday.
A WHO official earlier said the inoculations could possibly begin by early December, after reconfirmation of the diagnosis from a laboratory in Senegal.
Two samples sent there have tested positive, the joint report said.
"As of 11 November, a total of 329 suspected cases, including 97 deaths... have been reported since the last week of September", it said.
Central Darfur state is worst affected but cases have now been reported in all five states of Darfur, it said.
The health ministry first reported on October 30 that 32 people had died out of 84 cases in two Darfur states during October.
There is no specific treatment for the viral illness found in tropical regions of Africa but it can be contained through the use of bed nets, insect repellents and long clothing.
Vaccination is the most important preventative measure, WHO says.
A 2005 outbreak of the disease in Sudan's South Kordofan state caused 163 deaths out of 604 cases over about five months.
In January 2011, 35 people died of yellow fever in the Ivory Coast, the WHO said.
Ethnic minority rebels in Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003.
Violence has eased from its peak but overlapping conflicts including rebel-government clashes, inter-Arab and tribal fighting, as well as carjackings and other banditry, persist in the impoverished far-west region.
An estimated 1.7 million Darfur people are still living in camps for the displaced, the UN says.